April was a happening month for the ISULabaNtu team, both in the UK and in South Africa. Phase 5 was officially commenced on April 16th and saw most of the team members come together to discuss the work and the preliminary findings from Phases 1, 2, 3 and 4 which will drive the activities in Phase 5 and the development of a toolkit, which remains to be defined as the second last Phase progresses. The ABM was held a week later and brought together project team and the Advisory Board members. Overview of the so far completed Phases (1 and 2) and the on-going ones (3 and 4, as well as now 5) was shared, which yielded valuable feedback from the AB members.
It has become clear that as we move on with Phase 5 we will have to think more about what we mean by a tool kit, what is it that we would like to see in it and, most importantly, what is that the communities themselves would like to see in this kind of a tool so that it is truly useful? We have learnt, and continue to learn as work on Phases 3 and 4 advances, about the challenges residents of informal settlements are faced with in self-upgrading processes, as well as the needs and aspirations of those residents, who find themselves in different circumstances, e.g. for some their place of residence is seen as a temporary one, for others it's not; some get actively involved in upgrading activities, others are more passive. Factors like these have to be carefully considered and incorporated in the design of any tools so that they use the right language and provide the right resources for different groups, whether majority or minority.
What's more, we want to make sure we build on the existing platforms, frameworks and resources and complement them rather than duplicate. We will be reviewing the existing tool kits and platforms which focus on in-situ upgrading of informal settlements in order to get a clear view of what is already out there and where we can best contribute given the scope of ISULabaNtu. If you know of any such resources and would like to share them with us, please do reach out. It will no doubt be extremely helpful at this stage of our work.